Whether you like it sunny side up or scrambled, your favorite breakfast could one day become a cheaper prescription drug to fight cancer.
According to new research, genetically-modified chickens could soon be the manufacturer of cancer-fighting drugs. The University of Edinburgh research suggests that chickens that are modified to develop human proteins in their eggs could provide a cheaper way of manufacturing specific drugs.
At first, the researchers were just trying to find out how to make high-quality proteins for scientific research purposes. However, they discovered that drug proteins produced in the same manner were also potent just like the proteins developed through typical laboratory procedures.
The macronutrient could be effortlessly acquired from chicken eggs through simple purification methods. The genetic modification provides no adverse effect on the fowls that lay the eggs in a natural way.
“They live in very large pens. They are fed and watered and looked after on a daily basis by highly trained technicians, and live quite a comfortable life. As far as the chicken knows, it’s just laying a normal egg. It doesn’t affect its health in any way, it’s just chugging away, laying eggs as normal,” said Lissa Herron, research lead author of Roslin Technologies in Edinburgh.
To produce a clinically appropriate dose of the drug, it only requires three chicken eggs. A single fowl could lay more than 300 eggs a year which could make drugs-via-eggs an inexpensive system compared to the high-income labor needed in certain laboratories.
Roslin Institute Professor Helen Sang explained that they are not yet creating medicines for the mass. But, the research demonstrates that chickens are economically feasible for manufacturing proteins acceptable for drug learning researches and other practices.
Chicken eggs are already utilized for thriving the viruses which are later on used in vaccines such as flu shot. The new study provides a distinctive technique since the therapeutic proteins are concealed in the chicken’s DNA and made as the egg white’s part.
Scientists inserted a gene that produces protein into a chicken creating genetically-modified or transgenic fowl. The chicken’s body then produced a type of protein it usually does not manufacture and largely accumulate in the eggs it lays. The egg whites, in turn, could be purified to extract the protein. This is a method that is 10 – 100 times less expensive compared to creating proteins in a lab.
Researchers have preferred two proteins to be used for initial research. First is the human protein known as the IFN alpha 2a with strong anti-viral and anti-cancer effects. Second is the human and pig protein version called macrophage-CSF, boosted as a therapy to stimulate damaged tissues for self-repair.
Drugs that usually require protein for production are typically used in treating cancer. But the only means to make a few of these proteins sufficiently with a high standard requires the use of mammalian cell culture systems which are costly and with a low supply.
The chicken eggs drug will not be included in your doctor’s prescription yet. It would take a decade or two for the egg-based treatment that requires approval first before cancer patients could take them. The research team expects that the method could be administered to animals including the immune-boosting proteins to decrease the overuse of antibiotics.